NOT EVEN IN THE TOP 10: Goa slips out of top ten tourism states of India, ranks 11 in foreign tourist and 22 in domestic tourist arrivals

Team Goan August 31, 2013

Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala get 90% of International Tourist Arrivals | Goa struggles for growth with a less than 2% growth in foreign arrivals against a national average of 7%

NOT EVEN IN THE TOP 10: Goa slips out of top ten tourism states of India, ranks 11 in foreign tourist and 22 in domestic tourist arrivals

One golden goose is on its death bed, the other in the sick bay. Two of Goa’s biggest revenue earners, mining and tourism are in different stages of decay. But the hard punch is this. Goa isn’t quite the tourist destination it pitches itself to be. Why it’s not even in the top 10. We at The Goan, say this with regret that we told you so as virtually all the boxes that contribute to the demise of tourism have been checked by Goa.

The bottom line and the pet peeve is an absolute lack of concern for tourists who is just a milch cow. The taxis rip them off. Many are arrested and spend years in jail on trumped up charges, an uncertain shack policy which delays the  putting up of actually the biggest tourist attraction of Goa  and the outpouring of garbage are the straight off the block reasons why a spender wouldn’t want to be here. And then the music dies at ten and the lights follow soon after.

And as The Goan has reported extensively, Goa’s priceless heritage-homes and art, are decaying with little effort to preserve or promote.

The result is this. Ten out of the top tourism rankings across the globe found no mention of Goa at all as a favoured tourist destination. Even though the State tourism department tried to counter the expose by talking of how popular travel website Tripadvisor.com had ranked Agonda and Kerim amongst the top ten beaches of India, Union Ministry of Tourism’s statistics related earlier this week is a testimony that Goa has got its act wrong in arresting its tourism slide.

Ministry of Tourism’s Indian Tourism Statistics at a glance 2012, its annual report on tourism industry statistical data does not have Goa being mentioned anywhere in the 20 page document. The tourism industry in India does show a 20% growth overall but Goa does not seem to have enjoyed the fruits of these arrivals. At less than growth, the state needs more than just good PR to boost its tourism prospects. What would hurt the tourism industry captains in Goa is also the fact that neighbouring states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and arch rival Kerala are a part of the top ten tourism states in India that corner 90% of inbound foreign traffic into India. Despite its 1000+ dedicated charter flights Goa shares less than 10% of foreign tourist traffic.

But then Tourism Goa was always in the know of its slipping rankings. Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai, raised the issue of Goa’s tourism downslide based on the report in The Goan (dated March 2, 2013). In his reply, Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, officially acknowledged that Goa did not figure either in Lonely Planet’s best to travel top cities or regions, nor in Conde Nast Traveller, National Geographic and Traveller’s Choice top beach destinations. The Minister at the same time also revealed a slew of initiatives to bolster tourism arrivals in Goa ranging from engagement of world class consultants to formulate the State’s tourism master plan, vision management consultants for infrastructure planning, to participating in travel marts and exhibitions. However all this has not been able to wipe out the trust deficit in the industry. It’s a tough act for PR consultants since every seller, including a seller of dreams, needs a product to sell.

“Tourists who come here have sharp memories and absorb every moment and experience that they have spent here. It translates into bad memories and feedback which even the best PR cannot cull,” says Peter Pinto, CEO of Vasco based Neha Tours & Travels. Pinto and a growing number of people in the tourism industry who are not associated with Travel and Tourism Association of Goa feel that the State is working more on pompous issues and not on measures which can arrest this slide.

Interestingly while the State faces the ignominy of falling off the list of the most preferred destinations in the country its Tourism Director Nikhil Desai defends saying “Goa with its 15 lakh population and a tourist arrival which is double the size of the state’s population is already doing what no other state in the country can boast of”. The question then is whether the government has a plan B to arrest the ongoing slide?

Simply accepting the hard reality of not being in the top ten, can be the beginning of this revival plan.

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